I was about 9 nine years old and full of youthful exuberance and zeal; surrounded by neighbors who were like family, friends to play with within walking distance, and house that felt like the size of a football field.
For a kid from the suburbs, life couldn’t be better; and then it happened. My mother and father separated and divorced. I didn’t really understand what it meant at the time, but what I did realize was things would never be the same. My mother was forced to move my sister and I to a smaller living space to keep up with the bills; my castle was gone. Familiar faces I had seen on a daily basis were no more. Forced to make new friends, at a new school and in uncharted territory, was not apart of my plan.
As the years went on, thoughts of having my dad accompany me to my little league and high school sporting events, school me on the rules of engagement for my first date, assist me with obtaining my driver’s license, or just a man to talk to you and kick it with like my friends did often occurred but soon faded due to the fact my mother showed the kind of love that made me feel like I wasn’t missing out on anything or anyone. That being said I was still upset, confused, and couldn’t understand why things turned out the way they did. When I reached my early 20’s I attempted to hide my pain by stating I was unaffected, and could care less about how things used to be, and never really talked about it much. I pushed myself further away from getting to know my father again or the even the desire to mend any broken fences. His attempts to reconnect would fall on deaf ears as I was convinced the time for talking, explanations, and understanding had long gone due to my unforgiving nature. I simply chose not to forgive.
Fast forward a bit, I had become conscious to the fact that as you grow older, you are required to take on more responsibility, and make tougher choices. I can admit I didn’t always make the right choice and I found myself asking for forgiveness from those whom I had hurt and done wrong, and even from God. Yet, I was unable to forgive the man who aided in my existence on this earth. Holding a grudge gave me a sense that I had control over the situation and that I determined the final outcome without even dealing with it head on. The idea that we are all sinners, we all make mistakes and all need to be forgiven at some point, never crossed my mind unless it dealt with me. I Guess I was the pot calling the kettle black. Matthew 6:14 Jesus states “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Ephesians 4:32 tells us “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” Christ, even during his most painful, and horrible death know to man, he looked upon the people responsible for suffering and prayed for their forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not a suggestion but a command of Jesus. God has forgiven us all our sins; we should not withhold forgiveness from others. When we don’t forgive others, we are setting ourselves outside Christ love and mercy towards us. The key to forgiveness is remembering how much God forgave us. God tells us he forgives us our sins, and instructs us to forgive those whom sin against us (Matthew 18:21-35, Story of the Unforgiving Debtor). Realizing his infinite love, grace and mercy and that he chooses to forgive will help and aid in our forgiveness towards others. Truly release the people with whom you hold a grudge now without hesitation. It will free you as well as others. At times it’s so easy for us to ask God for forgiveness but we find it so difficult to grant it for others. The famous poet, orator and priest George Herbert said once “He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.” So ask yourself, will you choose to forgive as God has already forgiven you?
Written by: Anthony Williams